Karen Trebilcock

Many farmers out there are sitting at computer keyboards staring at blank screens trying to tell the Government how its policies are going to screw their business.

For some it’s the first time they have ever written a submission and many will wonder how to do it.

There is no right or wrong way. What is important is that you find the right form online, or that you send it to the right place, and by the deadline.

Some are made on online forms, others can be emailed. Figure it out before you start.

Government needs to know what you think, not whether you can spell.

Every submission on Government policy is read and becomes part of a departmental report to Parliament so even if your submission is only one sentence it counts.

It doesn’t matter if you are the owner of the farm, the sharemilker, the 2IC or the relief milker, it counts.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a scientist with a PhD or an economics forecaster with a business degree from Harvard or someone who milks 1000 cows but never got School Cert, it counts.

Forget being humble, forget thinking it will be fine, I don’t need to do this, everyone else is.

Do it.


And don’t worry about your spelling or grammar or writing in paragraphs. Get it as good as you can and send it. Government needs to know what you think, not whether you can spell.

And they do need to know. They are not asking for submissions just because consultation is part of the law.

Policies are written by people in Wellington who may never have been on a dairy farm, milked a cow, run a business, employed people, planted a tree, or caught a fish from a river flowing through their farm.

So they need to know how you feel, what you think and what you know.

Write how the policy will affect you, your business, family and community.

Don’t worry about the big picture stuff – GDP, the exchange rate, global politics.

Instead, concentrate on your business, your life.

Give examples. If the policy is going to take money out of your business say how this will affect accessing schooling for your children, or healthcare, or going to the supermarket.

Will you have to let staff go? Will you have to lower pay rates? Will you no longer be able to take on relief staff so you will not have any days off for yourself and your partner and how will that affect your mental health?

Will you and your partner lose your jobs and the house which comes with it? Maybe both of you have been milking cows for the past 10 years so have no skills which can be transferred to other workplaces?

Say it if you sometimes feel like giving up.

Be honest. Write it from the heart.

Don’t worry if you’re not writing in complete sentences that are as formal as the policy you’re submitting on.

Policies are written by people employed to write them. They’re good at it. You’re good at milking cows and looking after them. They’re just different skills.

Write in bullet points if that is easier – one line for each fact.

Say what you agree with and what you disagree with. If you disagree, do you have alternatives that would work better?

Try to make it as clear and concise as possible.

If you need help call DairyNZ or Federated Farmers. Use them.

To make a submission on the Government’s Essential Freshwater Package go to the DairyNZ homepage and find the link to it there. Submissions close October 31.


This article is free to view because it is a topic of high importance. This article was published in Dairy Exporter magazine. For less than $10/month, you can receive this detailed information to help improve performance within your business.  nzfarmlife.co.nz/dairy-exporter/
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